Socialist Worker


Issue No. 2130

Members of the Unite union organised protests outside Tesco last week to demand rights for workers in the company’s supply chain. Many wonder if the government’s VAT cuts will be passed on to their customers (Pic: Socialist Worker)</

Members of the Unite union organised protests outside Tesco last week to demand rights for workers in the company’s supply chain. Many wonder if the government’s VAT cuts will be passed on to their customers (Pic: Socialist Worker)

Why didn’t Darling hit the ‘wealth creators’?

A Tory MP was wheeled out on BBC News 24 last week to tell us that Alistair Darling’s plans to increase income tax on the super-rich by 5 percent would “only” raise £2 billion.

He agreed with the presenter that this would be at the expense of “wealth creators” being driven from Britain.

Someone should tell those greedy parasites and their mouthpieces in parliament – when you’re in a hole, stop digging.

The obvious conclusion we should draw from the MP’s comments is that the 45 percent should increase to 90 percent!

That would mean we could raise £20 billion – enough for a rise in pensions, new council houses, schools and hospitals, not to mention a decent pay rise for workers.

Who do these “wealth creators” think they are kidding?

These people have presided over the destruction of manufacturing industry in Britain over the last 30 years.

Now their system is on the verge of a slump that could take away the livelihoods of millions of people who create the world’s real wealth.

Gordon Brown and Darling have been forced to respond in a small way to the rage that working people feel against the fat cats. But they will never go far enough even to begin making amends.

For that we will need a workers’ revolution to take back the wealth we create and use it for the good of everyone.

Ken Muller, East London

Bill O’Connor says that Socialist Worker opposes the nationalisation of the banks, and that makes it as bad as the Republicans in the US (» Letters, 22 November).

The question is, who is benefiting from the way the government chose to bail out the banks?

If the nationalised banks were controlled by ordinary people and run for their benefit, then of course we would be in favour.

Instead, millions of people continue to face high interest rates and repossession, while bank workers face redundancy.

If the government had nationalised both the profits and the debts of these banks, and workers had real control over them, it would have been a very different story.

Kim Harrison, Manchester

VAT cuts won’t reach shoppers

I don’t believe Alistair Darling’s cut in VAT will affect the prices we see in stores.

My first job was as a “price integrity assistant” for Tesco. It involved making sure that all the price labels were correct – there were around 10,000!

Every time head office ordered a price hike, it turned into a logistical nightmare.

If the supermarkets pass on the cut in VAT to their customers, it will take weeks to change the prices.

Instead I think they’ll just absorb the cut into their profits.

At best we’ll see a few pence off the price of chocolate.

Gary McNally, Stoke-on-Trent

Teach Nazi a lesson

It says much about the nature of the British National Party (BNP) that riot police were deployed outside the disciplinary hearing of teacher and BNP member Adam Walker (» Anger as teaching panel caves in to BNP demand, 22 November).

But what is more shocking is the outrageous decision by the General Teaching Council (GTC) to accept that it would be “inappropriate” for Judy Moorhouse, the democratically elected chair of the council, to sit on the disciplinary panel.

This was after the BNP objected to Judy because she is a campaigner against fascism.

Yet, as the GTC itself noted, “This case is not about [Adam Walker’s] membership of the BNP.”

The hearing related to whether Walker had contributed to online discussions in which he expressed racist and religiously intolerant views.

These are charges that a teacher could face regardless of their political affiliation.

If the council accepts that it is “inappropriate” for Judy Moorhouse to sit on the panel in this case, the logic is that she shouldn’t sit on the panel for any teacher facing similar allegations. Such a situation is untenable.

Teachers in Gateshead unanimously passed an emergency resolution at our NUT union meeting last week condemning the GTC’s actions.

We believe that the council has set a dangerous precedent by giving in to political pressure.

Those who agree with us can complain by emailing the GTC at

Tony Dowling, Membership secretary, Gateshead NUT (pc)

I read the article that details the social class of British National Party members (» Chart showing class make up of BNP, 29 November). Do they have no unemployed members? Or, is “artist” merely a euphemism?

Considering that only one police officer has been mentioned as being under investigation – and it is against the rules for police officers to be members – that must mean their forces are infested with them.

Neil Craig, by email

Labour’s plan harks back to chain gang

The government’s announcement last week that it will force people on “Community Payback” schemes to wear special high visibility jackets so that the public will know who they are shocks and disgusts me.

A gang shot a young man in Hackney, east London, last year when the scheme was being piloted. An internal report by the probation service said the high visibility vest was a “contributory factor” because it helped identify the man as a rival gang member.

The jackets have also encouraged vigilante attacks.

These Community Payback orders were presented as a way to reduce the number of prison sentences.

But not only has the prison population in Britain continued to rise, with jails now massively overcrowded, but younger people are increasingly being criminalised by the use of a variety of community sentences.

These are now being used where previously a caution would have been ordered.

The government’s motives for making these generally poor – and disproportionately black – young people more visible are troubling.

These measures hark back to the chain gangs in the US, where prisoners laboured in public while they were chained together.

Gwen Jones, Blaenau Ffestiniog

Can socialists explain abuse?

How do we explain horrific brutality against children, the most defenceless of creatures?

Sadistic killers, like the boyfriend of Baby P’s mother, live in a world that they experience as uncaring and hostile, a world in which those with power use them as objects.

In the words of psychoanalyst Anthony Storr, “The majority of people who commit acts of violence in peace time come from the bottom of the social heap, where many individuals feel humiliated, inadequate, helpless and inconsequential.”

Apart from a fortunate minority, individuals under capitalism have all sense of creativity and their potential as human beings stripped away. It is, moreover, a society based on economic and military competition – that is, on violence.

Is it any wonder that the most deprived and excluded feel most powerless? And those with the least capacity to fight back see violence against the weak as the only way in which they can achieve a degree of potency?

As long as capitalism survives, there will be more Baby P horrors.

Sabby Sagall, Central London

Boycott Burma regime now

News from Burma has seldom been happy in recent decades, but now General Than Shwe’s dictatorial regime has hit rock bottom.

Non-violent protests by anti-regime dissidents have largely taken place on the internet, yet some have been sentenced to savage prison sentences of up to 65 years!

One popular figure, the comedian Zarganar, is being sent to the gulag for having coordinated an independent relief effort for victims of Cyclone Nargis.

He was also charged with possession of banned films, including one of the super-opulent wedding of the general’s daughter.

It is time for internationalists to take action against the regime in Burma.

May I suggest a heightened campaign against any travel agencies promoting tours of the country and a picket of the embassy?

David Jardine, Indonesia

How to make bosses pay up

A brief “wildcat” strike at Countryliner buses in Sussex last week showed that action gets results.

Four drivers struck after they found that their wages had not appeared in their bank accounts.

This led to buses being cancelled, controllers out on the road and a senior manager forced to drive over from Guildford in an attempt to resolve the matter.

By mid-morning the delayed wages finally appeared in accounts.

At this point the four returned to work.

It was said that the non-payment was the result of a blip in the automated payment system, but the background to the strike is telling.

The previous week we heard that two coach drivers at CS, a subsidiary of Countryliner, had not been paid.

The credit crunch also adds to the picture as the hand-to-mouth existence of many drivers means we work long hours with a lot of overtime.

As a result of the action, one more person joined the union and management learned the consequences of messing with our pay!

Countryliner bus driver

Can you ditch the dogma?

I find your website a thoroughly stimulating resource but sometimes I find your articles a bit dogmatic.

You argued in favour of nationalising enterprises last week and rejected privatisation simply for the sake of it.

It seems that Socialist Worker clings to the ideas of big government and strong state socialism.

New Labour has been equally rigid in support of its opposite position – free market ideology.

Both are as bad as each other. We saw the terrible economies of the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe where everyone had a terrible standard of living.

Surely society just needs to do whatever works?

Jo, by email

Defend our pensions

I have just taken redundancy from the car part manufacturer Federal Mogul in Coventry, where there was a recent walkout (» Workers hit back at Federal Mogul , 22 November).

I consider myself one of the lucky ones!

Four years ago the bankrupt company was taken over by a US firm.

We are still waiting to see if our underfunded pension scheme will be accepted into the government’s Pension Protection Fund.

In the meantime, I am receiving only half the pension that I should be getting.

I’m worried that Federal Mogul could walk away from their pension commitments in Britain. In other countries where they have plants they would be made to pay by law.

Jim Bimbi, Coventry

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Article information

Tue 2 Dec 2008, 18:43 GMT
Issue No. 2130
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